New millionaire show makes two in first weekend

Simon Cowell on

Simon Cowell is already an expert at making people millions. It's just that in the past, the lion's share of the big money has ended up in his pocket. Now he is in the game show business, with the new Ant and Dec vehicle, Red or Black. And in his first weekend he has made two people millionaires.

But while we were perfectly happy with him making a large fortune at the expense of weeping wannabes humiliated on primetime TV, there has been an odd reaction to his new millionaires.

The show
The game show, Red or Black, is based on chance. The idea is that it started with 100,000 applicants who made some lucky guesses and were whittled down to 7,000 who could play in one of seven locations. From each location, eight contestants made it to the studio through making some more lucky guesses. They were then asked to guess again to be in with a chance of making it to the final spin. At this point they had to choose between red and back on the roulette wheel. Get it right and they make £1 million.

The whole thing is therefore based on a series of lucky guesses. It means anyone can win - just as anyone can lose. We cannot possibly have an opinion about whether someone deserves to win or lose, because that's not how it works... but it doesn't seem to stop us.

The winners
The first winner, 31-year-old bricklayer Nathan Hageman, has hit the news for the fact he has served time in jail for attacking another man. He told The Sun that he had started getting threatening calls from the man and decided to take matters into his own hands. He broke into his house and beat him up. He was reported as having said: "I was an idiot for doing it, I know, but that's the state of mind I was in.

"He wasn't seriously hurt, but he made a complaint and I was arrested. I was charged with aggravated burglary and ABH. I pleaded guilty straight away as I knew what I'd done was wrong. I got five years."

He spent two and a half years in HMP Bullingdon and was freed in 2009. He has served his time and the programme knew about his jail sentence when he was allowed to take part.

The second winner, 44-year-old Kevin Cartwright, is a full time carer who said all he wanted was to provide a better quality of life for his fiancee, who suffers from a rare blood disorder.

The media scrum
Clearly these are two very different people, who have had very different lives and made different choices. All they have in common is that they have won £1 million. Plenty of people do it on the lottery and keep quiet - doubtless many scores of people who have been to prison and many more with caring responsibilities have done so without the world's media on their backs.

But these men dared to do so on a game show that's the most expensive in history and is backed by Simon Cowell. They can expect every inch of their private life to be poured over, every decision they ever made to be reported on and debated as if they were celebrities who had offered themselves up for public consumption.

Why do we have an opinion about this, why are we letting the media feeding frenzy begin? Is there something wrong with a world that makes people millionaires on the back of a lucky choice? Or is there something wrong with us for not being able to be happy for the contestants and then get on with out own lives?

Let us know in the comments.

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